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Pathways Through Our Past

Another wonderful surprise came our way a couple of weeks ago when Ethel Ferdig Klempel called to ask if we might be interested in reviewing the Michalicek and Ferdig family histories for the History Center.

What a gold mine! Ethel had handwritten and typed booklets that stood a foot high. She had been researching, writing and compiling facts for as long as she could remember. It was always in the back of my mind to write about the people who lived on the road to my Grandma and Grandpa Hansen's at Alvwood and here it was, all laid out.

Ethel is really organized and has a great memory, so I asked her if she would... "start at Alvwood and list the names of all the people she could remember all the way to Blackduck." Alvwood and Squaw Lake are within our school district and are considered part of the Blackduck community, so we want them represented in the History Center's library.

Hines and Summit people are working on their township histories and family trees, now we can add Alvwood! If you have your family history documented, or wish to start one, let us know, maybe we can help.

Andrew and Meri Michalicek.

Arnie Michalicek writes this about his grandparents...

"Andrew Michalicek was born in Radok, Hungary in 1887 and later moved to Vazec, Czechoslovakia. He had one sister, Susan and four brothers -- Mike, Daniel, John and Mathew. Daniel and John stayed in Czechoslovakia, Mathew was killed in Minneapolis in 1905 and Mike moved on to Blackduck. He also changed the spelling of his name to Michalek to avoid all the confusion.

"Meri Chovan Michalicek was also born in Vazec in 1881, where she lived until coming to the U.S. Mary was the only girl in the family and told of caring for her mother in her last painful illness. After her mother's death, Meri told of "me carry boards for mother's coffin on back." She had three brothers. John Chovan married Andrew's only sister Susan, they lived in Wisconsin. Daniel and Mike Chovan lived in Minneapolis. Upon invitation from her brother John, Meri, her young son and her father, Martin, came to this country in September of 1906.

"She and John were married in Minneapolis. While her husband worked in the Minneapolis Moline Foundry, Meri kept house and cared for their family. Even though Andrew and Meri's lives changed drastically after they became born again Christians, they still retained some of the superstitions brought with them from the old country, such as dreams, spoons rattling in cupboard drawers and ghosts, etc. The couple bought a farm in Moose Park Township in 1910. They moved back and forth from Minneapolis several times over a period of years until they had enough land cleared to build a place where it could support their family.

"Even though they were plenty busy on the farm trying to make a living for their growing family, they took time to become involved in community affairs. They were aware of the need for a school in the growing community, so they let Itasca County build a school on their land. All the Michalicek children and some of the grandchildren went to that school for the first eight grades. Andrew also served as town board supervisor for most of the years they lived on the farm. Whenever any of their neighbors needed a veterinarian for their livestock, or a general handyman they called on Andrew who was always willing to help. Meri also had a reputation in the community. She was known to have a good 'listen ear' and a large store of good advice, which many of her neighbors regularly sought.

"After moving to their farm in April of 1920, Andrew and Meri lived and worked there until Meri's death Nov. 2, 1962 after which Andrew went to live with his daughter in Grand Rapids until his death Jan. 29, 1970. Their children included John Andrew Jr., Mike (1910/1912), Eleanor, Mike, Helen, Simon, Steve, Mary and Albert."